Tag Archives: writing

Learning to Type

29 May

pay phoneA few weeks after Kelly and I started dating, on the 45-minute drive between her home and mine, I decided I needed a mobile phone — to stay connected with the people in my life. Before Kelly, I talked with friends every night from my home phone — you know, the one that plugged into the wall. Nearly every lunchtime, I chatted from the office phone, too, or from the pay phone downstairs in the quick-stop market next to a machine that every thirty seconds announced, “Create-a-Card!”

Now, twelve years later, I text. Silently. Briefly.

While I was in high school, my dad spent long hours on the computer at night. It upset my mom, who wanted him around while she ironed and watched her shows. She wanted him to come to bed before she fell asleep. She wanted to see him, talk with him, be with him. Never mind that she was lesbian. That didn’t come to light for a long, long time and by then, I had decided technology was the enemy, keeping people apart, stealing our attentions, lighting up our lives in unnatural ways. I wanted nothing to do with computers. I didn’t even want to learn to type.

I’m not saying this line of reasoning was wrong.

But I remember earlier, a younger me sitting in a room on campus, where I’d go sometimes with my professor dad. I remember drawing or writing or reading or waiting while the computer spit out green and white striped pages, connected and perforated. The computers were enormous and loud. I loved their racket all around me. I loved their rhythms and their beeps and their hums. I loved knowing my dad was nearby, and understood these big brilliant things. No one else I knew had seen a room like this. No one I knew had any inkling what these tall, touch-the-ceiling computers with their dot matrix and binary codes would eventually become. No one I knew had any clue, except my dad.

He was thrilled by them.

Eventually, I learned to type because I wanted to act. My parents required it. You want to act? You’ll learn to type. I hated having a back-up plan. I wanted to succeed on the stage.

I would have, too, if I’d been willing to wander around the country for a long, long while, never settling in one place, never knowing how long a given gig would last. I would have made enough money to scrape by, to sleep under some roof, to eat. I would have. Probably.

I acted for a long time. I supported myself. I dug into Chicago. I built a life. I tried to wait tables and failed. I signed with a temp agency, learned some word processing, formatted documents, changed colors and fonts. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and now, to support myself and contribute to the family income, I write mostly for the worldwide web. By typing. At a computer. Every. Single. Day.

Time for a Change

15 May

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my name. My blog name. About changing my blog name to something like Poet by the Side of the Road or From the Parking Lane.

I do my best writing – or most consistent writing anyway – parked in my car. Between other activities. Blissfully alone. In fact, the only time I can count on being alone is in my car between other things.

Do you feel me?

My youngest certainly appreciates the screen time I allow her while I’m trailing words across the page in her presence – but then the mom-guilt kicks in, my words get messy and eventually whatever I’m writing implodes. Often. Not always, but often. Which means I’m better off in my car while she’s doing something else – making bracelets, practicing yoga. Okay, she hasn’t made bracelets in a good long while. Maybe ever. But you get what I mean?

While the tween is busy with something besides a screen: That is my best writing time.

That time with sun streaming through the car windshield. With chirping birds, newly arrived. With wind chimes, lulling me gently.

I need a name from my own point of view. From the driver’s seat. Right? Not from the point of view of my daughter’s friends.

But even if I change my name, my fonts aren’t quite right. My colors are abysmal. My photos are busy. My poems are spotty. My vision is muddy. I feel like the puppy is trotting around the room with my bra in his teeth.

* * *

Our puppy scampers

around the couch,

head held high, my

bra tucked in his teeth.

* * *

When Company Comes:

Our puppy scampers

round and round the couch , my silk

bra tucked in his teeth.

* * *

It isn’t my bra. It’s my Honey’s. And it hasn’t been – to my knowledge – trotted out in the presence of company. But it could have been. Right? Poetic license.

This is how my brain works.

Not long ago, the dog almost ate Miss E’s homework. For real. For weeks, she prepared for the academic fair: One hundred facts onto note cards –> a 10-page paper –> a visual display –> everything back onto note cards for an oral presentation.

wpid-20150426_125848.jpgI pick her up from school, where her display board waits safely in the gym with all the others. I shuttle her to YogaKids, breathe through the next hour with a mom friend on the couch beside me and a pen in my hand, and as we get back into the car 30 minutes before she needs to get back to school for her presentation, she says to me, “Mom, we have to go home and print my paper.” Again. Apparently, she needs two copies – one for the academic fair and one to turn in.

Home is 10 minutes away from yoga class and 10 minutes away from school. We haven’t eaten dinner yet. You do the math.

As soon as we hit the front door and we’re in WiFi range, Miss E deftly opens her research paper on the school-issued iPad, converts it to PDF, and sends it to print. She staples it together (quickly, but still, 5 minutes have passed), she sets it on the dining room table so she can use the bathroom before we leave.

It seems the puppy’s legs have grown. Before we know it, he’s snatched the entire paper off the table and is prancing around the living room, pleased as punch, shaking his head while a trimester of work dangles from his puppy mouth.

“What?! Wait! What does he have?!”

His bite marks are only on the title page, happily, so out the door we go. Snip Snap! We rush through a drive-through for dinner and reach the academic fair hardly late at all. Sweet!

Maybe my new blog name could be Things the Puppy Has Chewed.

When I started this blog, my intention was clear. I was writing to make space for lesbian moms. I was writing so allies would have something to share. I was writing for younger lesbians who couldn’t imagine becoming moms. I was writing to say: We’re here. We’re queer. And the kids are alright.

But times have changed, both inside my house and outside it. Mombian is fan-flipping-tastic – has been for a whole lot longer than I’ve been in the blogosphere – and of course, there’s the truly awesome Village Q. And both sites, besides sharing their own stories, list blog after blog after blog worth reading.

Lesbian moms are everywhere in real life, too. There are lesbians parenting kids in every grade at my daughter’s school. We’re in the news. On TV shows. We are VISIBLE.

It’s fricking amazing.

Even more important for me, though, and for my blog… my 5th grade daughter doesn’t want her business out in the world for everyone to see. I mean, if my mom had a blog when I was her age, I would have died. Truly. So I get it. But what do I write about now? Where do I steer? Where is my new true writing north?

Maybe a new name, once I land one, will give me a place to begin.

Writer’s Weekend

12 Feb

I went away last weekend.

Like: Away.

Like: Leave the family – the kid, the dogs, the cat, the laundry – at home and LEAVE TOWN. To write. To be a writer. To set a few goals. To free-write. Remember that? Free writing? Writing to cleanse the soul. To play. To be. Writing I may share or {gasp} not share. Free. For a whole weekend. Free from responsibilities. Free from duty. Free, free, free.

Because my family supports my writing – my Honey, both girls, even the dogs (trust me on this), I can actually ditch town for a full weekend just.for.me. Even if this is the first time I’ve done it in over ten years – since becoming a mom and, yes, I was wracked with guilt half the time – even while the tween was having the time of her life with a sleepover and two playdates and dancing and movie-making and stories and art and PLAY, PLAY, PLAY.

Even while my Honey had friends over both nights, and then up to and well beyond the moment I arrived home. Even so.

The guilt. My, oh, my.

Or maybe it was just that they could get along without me.

I’m told that bit gets easier.

I went away with a friend. A new friend. A coworker. A writer. We told stories for days – well, two days, but – you know? STORIES. To each other. And on the page. I adore this friend. I really do. In part because he handled warmly and gracefully my quiet melancholy in the woods, my need for silence, my insecure brooding self. How many friends do any of us have who can handle all that? These friends are gifts.

Here’s what our weekend looked like:

Writing Weekend Snacks

Writing Weekend One Computer

Writing Weekend Two Computers

Writing Weekend Too Much Light

Writing Weekend Fridge

When we stopped writing, we walked.

Writing Weekend Road

Writing Weekend Pictures of Trees   Writing Weekend Snowy Trees

And by the time we were ready to go – after hours of writing and talking and listening – I found my perspective shifting more naturally, less haltingly, both my feet on solid ground.

 

 

Writing Weekend Path to the Not so Frozen Lake

Writing Weekend Leaves and Ice

Writing Weekend Snowy Leaves Melting Ice

Writing Weekend Ice Melt

It was … precisely … what I needed.

All of it.

Snow

and leaves,

melting ice and

friendship. And words.

So, so, so many words

falling into place, all

in their own

time.

Question #5

26 Jan

This week’s question isn’t random. It’s something I really want to know. It came up when I acknowledged out loud that I need more quiet time than your average bear. I have a feeling a lot of writers feel the same way. A lot of my family. A lot of my friends. But we rarely talk about it, so here goes ~

fishy

Introvert or Extrovert? How do you know?

I believe it’s a spectrum, and no one fits neatly on either side … but I’m curious how you relate to the world, how you recharge, where you put yourself (or your pets!) on the spectrum, and maybe even … WHY.

On Friday, I’ll blog my own exploration. Will you join me with a comment or a link to your blog?

Cheers,
RoiAnn

P.S. Thank you to Good Families Do for joining me every week!!! ❤

 

Question #4

18 Jan

I’m curious. Do you blog, ponder, chat with friends, or nudge your family to answer random questions at strange and unexpected times like I do?

So far, I’ve shared three questions here from Kobi Yamada’s book ever wonder and I’m loving the conversations they spark. Now, stepping away from a game of Dominoes, I am opening the book to (Random) Question #4.

On Friday, I’ll blog my own exploration. I hope you’ll join me with a comment or a link to your blog. Here goes . . .

wpid-20150111_204631.jpg

How do you nurture your soul?

See you Friday!
RoiAnn

P.S. I’m so sorry I didn’t close Friday’s post with an invitation to link to your own blog if you have one! The offer is ALWAYS OPEN.

Who’s Driving this Car?

15 Jan

That’s the question I want to be asking because lately, my questions are all about power. Who has it? Who wants it? Can I have some? Do I have some? Can I let some go? Who has the wheel? Who must step aside?

Whether I’m talking about my tween and homework, my life, or my work, it always eventually comes to this: Who’s driving the car?

But let’s back up. I posted a question on Monday, and I aim to answer it. Here’s a refresher . . .image

Do you know where you are on your journey?

~ Kobi Yamada, ever wonder

After curating our year-end campaign for work — inviting staff, allies and supporters to map their journeys and share with the hashtag #MapYourJourney — I was supremely tickled by this question. There is a synergy at play, or perhaps it’s simply that “journey” is the word for 2015.

My word, anyway.

But which journey do I address?

* * *

I began my blog shortly after my stepmother died, acutely aware of how little time we have on this earth, how any impact we’re going to have must happen here, now … imperfectly, passionately … and here I am, still bumping around inside the heart of imperfection.

* * *

To pinpoint where I am on my journey as an activist for equity and justice, a too-quiet activist these past few years . . . I’m drawn back to something I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago . . . The morning after a Grand Jury failed to hear the case against Darren Wilson, I was livid. Quietly seething, truly horrified. There are not enough adjectives in my lexicon to reflect all the sparks, or all the tendrils, of my emotion. I stayed silent on social media. I didn’t have anything helpful to say.

Even as I left the house, even as I rode the train, walked down the sidewalk, smoldering inside – still, I had no words.

I walked directly into my coworkers’ office before removing my coat, my hat, before opening the door of my own office – I needed human contact, perspective, SOMETHING. I need to talk with someone as furious as myself – as hurt, as angry, as appalled.

We shared our outrage. I took off my hat. We told each other how we’d each heard the news, how it impacted us, what it reminded each of us of. I unzipped my coat. There were flushed cheeks. Tears. Intensity. Hugs. We come from different places, but we stood together. In that moment, we stood together.

I would have imploded without that.

Silence is not an option, not over the long term. Which means . . .

My opinions and my mistakes – so many of them – are coming out more and more now because even if I’m wrong or stupid or sheltered sometimes, even when I see it wrong or say it wrong, I know I have to keep talking until I get it right.

* * *

And listening. I have to keep listening, too.

I landed in nonprofit communications as a drifter with drive but no direction. I’m learning as I go — as we all are, I suppose.

I am learning not just how to be an online marketer or a non-profit storyteller, a social media manager or a website content creator – it’s bigger than that – I am learning what it means to listen. To be humble. To sit in a room with people I respect, people from many walks of life, and to support – truly support – one another as we grow.

It isn’t easy.

For any of us.

* * *

I consider each journey. To each journey, I bring my full attention.

Where am I? Who’s driving the car?

I am a poet, a mom, a blogger, a dreamer, an Aquarian in the middle of my life. I am a woman, a mom, a stepmom, a wife. I’m an auntie, a mentor, a daughter, a friend, an activist, a writer, a communicator. I am sometimes a bridge. I am overweight and under-styled. Down-to-earth. True to my word. I have never been happier. I am lonely sometimes.

Rilke says, in his Letters to a Young Poet:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

I had a really hard time with last week’s question, I have to confess. I nearly scrapped the whole question-and-answer idea, except that … I am loving the conversations.

I love to see how we’re all on a journey, each of us with our own answers, our own ideas, our own responses or explorations, our own blinders, stumbling blocks, strengths, insights and passion – and it’s okay – it’s really okay – to see all these words we share back and forth across the screen as a living, breathing conversation. I can still change my mind. You can still change yours. We can change direction. Over and over again. And we will. These words do not need to box us in.

No.

I put words out here on my blog to be examined. I write them where I can see them, turn them over in my mind, rub them smooth with my fingers like shells or stones found on the shore, gifts from the sea, something I can hold onto, a kind of magic, daring me to make them into something liveable and real.

Where am I on this journey?

I am learning to love the questions.

Question #3

11 Jan

This is so much fun! I am loving the conversations sparked by questions from Kobi Yamada’s book ever wonder, both online and off. THANK YOU.

When more than five people responded to Question #1 last week, I posted a second randomly selected question. A few bloggers and friends shared thoughts on that one, too, so now I’m posting Question #3! Are you in?

On Friday, I’ll blog my own exploration and I’d love you to join me – with a comment or a link to your blog. So . . .

ever wonder dog wary

. . . from my living room to yours, here’s the question:

Do you know where you are on your journey?

Happy Pondering ~ See you Friday!
RoiAnn

We got five! The Question is …

5 Jan

We got five! Five people. More than five people responded to Question #1.

I promised to post a random question on Monday (that’s today) and blog my response on Friday, drawing from Kobi Yamada’s book, ever wonder, IF I heard from five or more people on the first question and…

It’s on! Thank you. 🙂

On Friday, I will blog my response here and invite you to share your response – either with a link to your own blog or a comment below. Are you ready?

ever wonder 1 dog

Now I’m sitting on my bed with the laptop (breaking my longstanding bed/laptop rule), opening the book to another provocative question:

Is it true that you have to see it to believe it, or rather, do you have to believe it before you can see it?

Happy Pondering ~ See you Friday!
RoiAnn

Now That Marriage is a Choice

30 Oct

Fox JournalHome from our honeymoon, I’m back in my car office, wondering what I might write or which scribbled-down words I might tweak. This is my pre-writing hour, this time while my kid is in yoga class stretching her limits … I find it more challenging lately to stretch my own … I page through my journal, the one with a fox on the front …

Those words I wrote about marriage in Asheville …

Those words about being a child of mental illness, a lesbian growing up in a time when “gay” was not “cool,” a young woman whose parents finally – eventually, inevitably, thankfully – divorced …

The words I put down on the page right after my wedding, the choice I made to remove both rings from my finger while I sleep …

Words I’ve written, so many others I haven’t yet opened, unwrapped, let free inside my own mind …

The words I keep coming back to…

The words about marriage trapping my mom (and my dad, too, though it’s not something I’ve heard him say), haunting words that were given to me when I asked, “Mom? Do you want out of your marriage or out of life?” Her response, so shocking to me at seventeen, although it seems a common perspective for women of her generation – her response after two or three attempts to end her life – her response, which was a question but not: “Does it matter? It’s the same thing.”

And when I share that, it feels like if I’ve reached the crux of my own … hesitation … to marry, to hold a ceremony, to invite family and friends, to commit. These words are revealing. Pivotal. True.

But this is only part of my story.

The rest of my story is a thread from a larger story, a story of community, of hope and heat and strength and power and trying and flailing and loving and fighting and working hard and giving up and going on and being.

See, marriage is an option for me – for us – where it never was before – and it was hard-won – and it’s not an option everyone will choose.

We have built our whole lives with or without partners and without the option to marry. So now what?

If we’re part of a couple, how do we merge our finances if we haven’t already? Do we really want to own our partner’s car? Or debt? Or house? Is that who we want raising our kids if something horrible happens? We’ve never had to be sure. Until now.

As I said to a gay colleague on the phone, “I have the option to wear fishnets, too, but that doesn’t mean I will.”

The pressure!

And maybe it’s the pressure our straight friends have felt all along – When will you marry? Or – Still waiting for the right man/woman to come along?

Marriage was the right choice for me. I haven’t always known it – and, in fact, it hasn’t always been – but I want to say to every same-gender-loving person I know:

Make the choice that’s best for you. I’ll have your back.

Choosing not to marry your partner of twenty years – even choosing not to marry your partner of twenty years now – does not invalidate your love, or the life you have built for yourselves.

Choosing not to build a life or a family with one other person does not make you unlovable or unloved or broken or damaged or wrong.

The point of marriage equality is having a choice, having the option, and making the choice that’s best for you.

Queer people have spent their lives outside the mainstream to one degree or another, but we have found ways of being that work for us, that work well for us, ways of moving through our world and lives that help us feel strong and whole and proud. I see nothing wrong with continuing to be how we’ve always been.

And yet, who hasn’t called the question? Who hasn’t asked themselves sometime in the past one or two or three years: Would I or wouldn’t I? Whose life as a same-gender-loving human in this country has NOT been altered by this string of marriage wins?

Inside a romantic relationship or outside of one, we are seen differently now. We are seen more completely. We can live more openly. In some places. In some families. Sometimes.

We feel it.

Slowly, the tide is changing. Love is winning.

Let this string of wins be an opening.

I don’t want us now living in wedded bliss to come inside and shut the door, forgetting how cold it can be outside.

I want this to be an opening.

I want us to continue loving one another and supporting one another’s choices, whatever our political beliefs, our connection to the state, our personal histories.

I want us each to choose from a place of strength and hope and love.

Because beyond the choice to wed or not to wed, for me the goal has always been – and always will be – to feel and to be seen as whole.

Mental Hygiene

31 Jul

LilypadsLast Friday, I was gulping down my second cup of coffee, dressed uncharacteristically in creased slacks and heeled sandals at a meeting for work, sitting between a dear friend and a new acquaintance. They were catching up. I was taking it all in. And at some point, my new acquaintance referenced “mental hygiene” as an antiquated phrase which eventually morphed into “mental health.” I’m honestly not sure which phrase I prefer, but she dismissed “mental hygiene” as the foundational philosophy for electric shock therapy and other efforts to clean or sanitize the human mind.

I saw her point, sharing her disdain for our culture’s approach to mental health through the ages, and yet …

“Mental hygiene” also resonated with me. It suggested daily maintenance, frequent care and attention. It’s a phrase that could remind me to take those daily silent moments for myself, opening that deep, rich sense of myself with the same care and frequency I put into brushing my teeth, showering, or brushing my hair.

Did I find a new title for my blog?

For months, I’ve been hopping all over the place in search of a new theme for this blog of mine. Because Miss E now has an undeniable need for privacy, which means telling the stories of our more profound or transformative conversations feels to me like breaking her trust. She is experimenting with distance and intimacy. She is full-on tween. These are precarious days.

She is also nearing the age I was when my mom began to spin out, eventually shedding her role as a parent for many years…

Recently, I arrived home after a grueling day at work, calling “Hello!” as I unlocked the door. My two dogs came running to greet me. I pet them both on the head, cooing my love. Then I went searching for the humans. Kelly, my partner, was out with clients and our home was unbelievably, eerily silent. I walked down to the basement, where my eldest was sorting the chaos of her bedroom, working hard to make it peaceful and clean – and while she was lovely to me and kind, I had clearly interrupted. I tried to stay brief, sticking to: Hello. When is our company coming? What’s the plan for dinner? And finally – Is your sister here?

“She should be in her room,” she answered, shuffling her pile again.

Miss E had never in her life failed to greet me at the door, but I climbed the stairs, knocked on her Minecraft-decorated door, entered, and found her sitting on the bed with headphones on, iPod in-hand. I kissed her head.

“What?!” she said, scrunching up her shoulders. “I’m watching videos.” I hadn’t seen her in ten hours. At least.

Still, I nodded. “Okay,” I told her, leaning over and kissing her again. “I love you.” I stood straight and walked towards her bedroom door.

“I love you, too, Mom,” she said.

I told this story to my friend Helen the next day at work, this story of the first time I arrived home after a challenging day and my young one didn’t run to greet me at the door. She said it hit her right in the heart, which I needed to hear, and she said she’d been there with her kids, too, who are all grown now. “She’ll come back to you,” Helen assured me.

“I never came back to my mom,” I replied. I didn’t think it through; I just said it. But it was true, I realized as the words came tumbling out of my mouth.

So THIS is the trouble I’m having now, I thought. This right here.

… which brought me back to the idea of Mental Hygiene. And how writing for me is like flossing.

Flossing my mind?

Helen may be right. It’s possible. Miss E may come back. Or maybe she won’t go far when she goes. When she separates. I can’t predict.

After all, at forty-five, I am slowly coming back to my mom – imperceptibly perhaps, but STILL – I wouldn’t have predicted that.

And so I floss. And I brush. And I rest. And I write. As much as I can. For my own mental hygiene. Praying we’ll all turn out all right.

 

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